Sandwick Films

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Nearly two decades in this business might be enough for someone to finally call it quits, but after 17 years of running the show at HSI's New York office, veteran executive producer Bill Sandwick has started anew. In May, Sandwick opened his own shop, flagged with the no-nonsense shingle Sandwick Films. "It got to a point where I had to decide what I was going to be doing for the rest of my career, to do what I was going to enjoy and what I was going to be excited by," he explains. "I always wanted to have my own company so I did it."

Things fell together following Sandwick's departure from HSI in March, after a random dinner with longtime friend Jeff Gorman, who offered up his own company JGF for sale. Sandwick quickly snatched it up, and the new shop launched with comedy pro Gorman, joined by Marc Klasfeld, the music video maven who has directed insane clips for Sum 41, Jewel and Scarface, as well as the upcoming film L.A. Riot Spectacular. The roster, which Sandwick doesn't plan to grow beyond six or seven, doubled in August with the addition of creative-turned-director Steven Kessler and Aussie helmer John Curran, formerly repped out of Anonymous Content, whose film We Don't Live Here Anymore was recently acclaimed by The New Yorker's David Denby as "easily the best American movie so far this year." Overall, the directors comprise an eclectic mix of talents, but for Sandwick, building a successful company isn't about creating a network of sell-offs or niche names. "I look for guys who can think and talk and write and direct and express themselves and have a point of view," he explains. "People pay a premium for talent because not everybody has it."

Also, given his directors' diverse backgrounds, clearly they all won't be carrying a torch exclusively for commercials. "They're all committed to this business, but you can't run a company trying to keep a guy from doing what he wants to do," Sandwick adds. "You fit into their lives and that's how you have a long-term relationship. If you actually try and take care of a guy's career in every way that's right, you'll do better with them and you'll have more fun. John Curran just did his movie, I'm hoping to capitalize on its success, so I can't expect him not to do another one."

In his nearly twenty years in production, Sandwick says "the one thing I have learned, it's try to get the proper brief from the agency as to what they're trying to accomplish and what their problems really are. If I can get that out of my clients, then we can come up with a better solution." Beyond that, he plays it by ear. "Once you think you have it all figured out, you're just an old fart who knows nothing," he says. "The most dangerous thing you can do in this business is say 'Now I know what I'm doing.' As soon as you do that, you're done. You have to be constantly ready to be awed and shown a new way to do things. There are different ways to produce jobs for different directors, everybody has their own ways of doing things and you want to evolve that but also service it. So I try and stay open and fresh and hope that people are going to challenge me."